Since 1990, Indonesia has lost 50% of its original forest, the Amazon 30% and Central Africa 14%. Fires, logging, hunting, road building and fragmentation have heavily damaged more than 30% of those forests that remain.
Forests provide many benefits such as storing large amounts of carbon, providing habitat for species, food and fuel for local communities, purifying water supplied and improving air quality. Protecting and replenishing them is an urgent global imperative and there are people working to do this.
For example, a team of researchers are working on evaluating the benefits and feasibility of restoration across tropical rainforests around the world. Newly published findings identify restoration hotspots – areas where restoring tropical forests would be most beneficial and least costly and risky. They cover over 385,000 square miles (100 million hectares), an area as large as Spain and Sweden combined.
The five countries with the largest areas of restoration hotpots are Brazil, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and Colombia. Six countries in Africa – Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Togo, South Sudan and Madagascar – hold rainforest areas where restoration is expected to yield the highest benefits with the highest feasibility.
The researchers hope their results can help governments, conservation groups and international funders target areas where there is high potential for success.
Forest restoration is also urgently needed in other types of forests across the world, such as seasonally dry tropical forests and temperate forests that are heavily managed for timber. Identifying key restoration opportunities in these regions requires separate studies based on their unique benefits and challenges.
Source: The Conversation